The night before the launch of their satellite aboard a NASA rocket, former and present members of Brown Space Engineering gathered to celebrate the last seven years with a barbecue, said Anand Lalwani & # 187, head of the NASA solar energy and battery construction teams responsible for the group. The launch was both exciting and bittersweet for the team, marking the culmination of thousands of hours of work by hundreds of students, he said.
The experience was nerve-wracking at the same time, as the team was not sure if the rocket would actually start, said Max Monn GS, one of the project's founders, who also worked on manufacturing and flash for the team. Storms had already pushed back the launch, said Hunter Ray & # 1
Their fears were mitigated on Monday, 4:45 am, when the rocket was weakened. The BSE satellite, called EQUiSat, had successfully launched into space, said Manav Kohli18, head of avionics hardware.
Team members watched the launch four miles from the launch pad on Wallops Island, Virginia. Locals and visitors from other states joined the team to witness the event, Joseph said.
To call the launch "spectacular" would be an understatement, Kohli said. "The whole sky was orange, it was beautiful," said Joseph. "The thing you miss a lot when you watch a launch on a video is … the sound, you do not get what it feels like, you can feel the rocket physically because it's so loud," Kohli said ,
It took about 10 seconds for the rocket to disappear from view, Kohli said. The team celebrated with champagne, Lalwani said.
EQUiSat will arrive at the International Space Station on Thursday, Monn said. From there, it will be launched sometime between the end of June and the beginning of August and stay in space for a year and a half, Monn said. The satellite was planned to test lithium-iron batteries, which are rather unusual in spacecraft The Herald previously reported .
The months before the start were "hectic but exciting," said Joseph. The bulk of the thesis took place between the start of the spring semester and the 21st of March, when the satellite was handed out for launch, Kohli said. Some members made last-minute changes, such as coding updates to the site, to make sure the countdown timer ran correctly, Hannah Varner said. Even after the satellite is stationed and operational, students will go to great lengths to ensure that the team can communicate with it, Monn said.
The team faced numerous challenges in creating the EQUiSat leadership consists entirely of students, said Lalwani. "None of us had previously built a satellite or anything," he said. Showing how accessible space can be was also an important part of the project, Kohli said.
The project shows that space technology is not far away for space enthusiasts The Herald already reported . The EQUiSat was comparatively cheap to build, just for $ 3,776, Ray said. If people want to build their own satellite, they can visit the BSE website to see exactly how it was created. EQUiSat will also be able to be tracked from space and even equipped with a LED light so that people can see it from Earth, Varner said.
Students could work on the satellite on the first day of their freshman year, Kohli said. Zach Nado & # 166 joined the team as a student after his curiosity was awakened by a poster in Barus and Holley. At the time, BSE had recently gotten the launch contract with NASA, so the project quickly moved from a funky hypothetical to something more concrete, he said.
Brant Hoffman & # 39; 15 was first drawn to the difficulty of the technical problem that confronted the project. When he joined, he found a family and a community that eventually involved him.
BSE is now working on a number of other projects. The tentatively named "FutureSat," the next satellite the team has planned, is still in the brainstorming phase, Joseph said.